Tuesday, August 30, 2005


My Country

Tanah tumpahnya darahku
The land where I was born

Rakyat hidup
The people living

Bersatu dan maju
in unity and progress

Rahmat bahagia
blessing & happiness

Tuhan kurniakan
bestowed by God

Raja kita
Our king

Selamat bertakhta
may you reign in peace

Rahmat bahagia
blessing & happiness

Tuhan kurniakan
bestowed by God

Raja kita
Our king

Selamat bertakhta
may you reign in peace

31 Ogos, 1957

Tanggal 31
(on 31)

Bulan lapan lima puluh tujuh
(august, in the year '57)

Merdeka* ! Merdeka !

Tetaplah merdeka
(We have been free since)

Ia pasti menjadi sejarah
(It shall go down in history)

Tanggal 31
(on 31)

Bulan lapan lima puluh tujuh
(august, in the year '57)

Hari yang mulia
(a glorious day)

Hari bahagia
(a happy day)

Sambut dengan jiwa yang merdeka
(let's celebrate with spirit of freedom)

Mari kita seluruh warga Negara
(Lets us as a nation)

Ramai-ramai menyambut hari merdeka
(Unanimously celebrate this merdeka day)

Merdeka !

Tiga satu bulan lapan lima puluh tujuh
(august, in the year '57)

Hari mulia negaraku merdeka
(the glorious day, my country had merdeka)

*The Malay word Merdeka carries the dual meaning of freedom and independence. The translators therefore refrained from rendering it either to keep to its full meaning.

Friday, August 26, 2005

God In The Dark

As a teenager I was a bit of a 'doubting Thomas'. It's scary sometimes because you seem to ask questions nobody seems interested in...

Some friends will look at you 'one kind', worrying if you've lost your salvation.
Or, offer well-meaning advice to 'have more faith' by just trying a bit harder.

(OK it still happens to me nowadays but... Peter Rowan highly recommended "GOD IN THE DARK" (Os Guinness) - a masterful, sensitive guide for doubters and their friends who wanna help.)

Often we think of 'doubt' as something bad. I've lost count of sermons that chide 'doubting Thomas' during Easter!

This misconception has helped to make Christians 'ashamed of doubting because doubt is a betrayal of faith and a surrender to unbelief".

But listen to other nuggets of wisdom from the book... (in bold)

"Doubt is not the opposite of faith, nor is it the same as unbelief. Doubt is a state of mind in suspension between faith and unbelief..."

But unbelief is a "a willful refusal to believe" or "deliberate decision to disobey"... "a state of mind that is closed against God".

"Doubt comes from a word meaning ‘TWO.’ To believe is to be ‘in one mind’ about ACCEPTING something as true; to disbelieve is to be ‘in one mind’ about REJECTING it. To doubt is to waver between the two, to believe and disbelieve at once and so to be ‘in two minds.’"

"...separate those who are doubting because they need answers from those who are doubting because they need doubts."

"Some people react so strongly against a morbid view of doubt that they treat doubt casually, even celebrate it... (but) Continued doubt loosens the belivers' hold on the resources and privileges of faith and can be prelude to disasters of unbelief"

C.S.Lewis once observed:
"If you examined a hundred people who had lost their faith in Christianity, I wonder how many of them would turn out to have been reasoned out of it by honest argument? Do not most people simply drift away?"

"...doubt is really faith suffering from mistreatment or malnutrition"

The book lists several forms of mistreatment/malnutrition:
1. Ingratitude/Forgetfulness
2. Faulty View of God
3. Weak Foundations
4. Lack of Commitment
5. Lack of Growth
6. Unruly Emotions
7. Hidden Conflicts

It also prescribes some exercise/medicines/supplements:
1. Intentionally remembers God's past goodness (i.e. journal, festivals)
2. Broaden our vision of who God really is
3. Reading/research on specific areas we struggle with (ie is Bible true?)
4. "Sign the contract" - commit to the consequences of your choice
5. Put faith into practice, to the test, real-life training
6. "Preach to yourself" - long obedience in the same direction
7. The creative power of humor... surprised by joy.

We need to be careful listeners and enflesh our words with compassion and patience so that our diagnosis and prescription can be on-target.

"If someone is doubting bcos he is no longer thankful to God... then no amount of intellectual discussion will touch his problem. Equally if someone is doubting bcos she has no basis for faith, then no amount of stirring reminders and encouragements will be a substitute for the necessary intellectual understanding.."

(How I wish every doubt can be dispelled by the right theological answer! But I gotta learn slowly and painfully that to help doubters require so much more... nothing less than the gracious work of the Holy Spirit can meet the wide contingencies of human need)

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Something More About Mary

Why would a Christian care to respond to a piece of fiction like “The Da Vinci Code”?

We certainly have no problem with historical romances of Georgette Hever or Francine Rivers.

So, what’s the big deal with Dan Brown?

Apart from his controversial claims about Jesus’ supposed marriage to Mary Magdalene and conspiracy theories on the origin of Christian faith, Dan Brown actually made his millions by the claim that “all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate”.

By blurring the lines between fact and fiction, many readers were misled into thinking his theories really have historical basis.

With the movie starring Tom Hanks due next summer, Christians could not afford to react with angry histrionics. We need to use this opportunity to engage our friends with the truth through informed, calm and winsome conversations.

Read More About The Da Vinci Code Forum

( Those kicking themselves for missing THE event may obtain the live recording from CDPC. Contact me at hedonese@yahoo.com )

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Coming Soon..

All fired-up after coming back from RZIM conference.. The Agora will be presenting a series of discussions for 'normal folks' like ourselves to get a handle on some of the issues facing the Christian church today.

(Open to public)

18 Sept - Leon (Science 101)

2 Oct - Steven Sim (Buddhism 101)

16 Oct - David Ting (Islam 101)

6 Nov - Han Meng (Atheism 101)

20 Nov - 2 Oct - John Chung (Sexual Issues 101)

Venue: City Discipleship Presbyterian Church ( Location Map )
Time: 1.45 pm

Disclaimer: "We're not formally trained. But we'd do our best" (Mr William Hung)

To confirm seating: Contact Hedonese@yahoo.com

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Christianity Today's Da Vinci Code Special Section

Christianity Today's Da Vinci Code Special Section

As long as readers take novelist Dan Brown at his word when he claims to be purveying historical fact in The Da Vinci Code, we'll keep separating fact from fiction.

Perhaps you've heard of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. This fictional thriller, which supposes a marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene that produced a royal bloodline in France, has captured the coveted number one sales ranking at Amazon.com, camped out for 47 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller List, and inspired a one-hour ABC News special. Along the way, it has sparked debates about the legitimacy of Western and Christian history.

While the ABC News feature focused on Brown's fascination with an alleged marriage between Jesus and Mary Magdalene, The Da Vinci Code contains many more (equally dubious) claims about Christianity's historic origins and theological development. The central claim Brown's novel makes about Christianity is that 'almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.'

Christian History and Christianity Today magazines have covered the subject widely, and we've compiled the articles below."

Read the articles here

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Following Jesus In Your Career

What does it mean to follow Jesus in the marketplace today?

“By practicing high moral standards”
“Seize opportunities to share the gospel”
“Don’t take bribes or swindle money”
“Forward inspiring articles to our colleagues”
“Start a Christian fellowship in office for prayers”

Sure, we could do some or all of those. Integrity and readiness to share Christ are non-negotiable.

But perhaps, we could also do much, much more.

It could start with the conviction that all Christians are “full-time workers”.

That doesn’t mean that all Christians should escape “secular” work to join “sacred” ministry. Neither does it necessarily mean that we should set up a covert, mini-church service inside the office, factory or school.

But it does mean that if you are a salesperson, you are an “ordained salesperson”. You have been summoned by God to serve Him in that specific sphere of activity.

Or, if you are an “ordained lawyer”, you are called to prayerfully explore how your discipline shows signs of rebellion against or submission to Christ’s Lordship.

An “ordained environmentalist” ought to read the Scripture not just devotionally, but actively apply the biblical mandate for creation care in his work.

Whatever our career is, we need to learn to think and live “Christianly” in areas specific to what we do – media, education, politics, business or the arts.

In humility and boldness, we should creatively integrate our faith with our vocation.

The lordship of Jesus extends not only to a private corner called ‘religion’, but to every facet of public life. So our work ought to give out hints of what the future redeemed world looks like.

As the Dutch prime minister Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’”

Thinking out loud, how do I follow Jesus as an IT consultant?

I ought not see my job as MERELY mapping and dividing a complex task into simple, boring, repetitive components so that people can be ‘efficiently’ replaced by computers.

Perhaps I should aim to use technology as tools to free people to do meaningful work that expresses human creativity, ingenuity and tacit skills by taking over the mundane, dangerous or high-volume processes.

How would you follow Jesus in your field?

Reflection & Exercise:

1) What are the ethical issues involved in my vocation? Where are the signs of the Fall in my field of work?

2) What does my field say about what is true, good and beautiful? For example, if I’m a Christian counselor, would I believe that moral behaviors are determined by genes? Or if I’m a scientist, how should I view evolution?

3) Are there any specific virtues especially relevant to my work? How shall I model or embody the Lordship of Christ humbly and boldly here and now?

(Some questions are based on J. P. Moreland’s “Love Your God with All Your Mind”)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Reflecting on RZIM

When you have been around the block for some time, you thought you had seen it all.

I have come across youth conferences on mission, worship, sexual purity, study techniques, evangelism or bible knowledge before... There was even a special camp to activate the gift of prophetic ministry!

But a Christian Apologetics Conference for Youth?!
It’s almost unheard-of in this part of the world.

In fact, some participants themselves wonder, “What on earth is apologetics?”
Well, apologetics is not the art of apologizing.

It is simply what apostle Peter had in mind when he wrote, "Always be prepared to give an answer (or defense) to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (1 Peter 3:16)

In a multi-religious society like Asia, we desperately need to commend the Christian faith in a reasonable and winsome manner to our friends who may not share our presuppositions.

I felt indebted to Ravi Zacharias and his ministry team for having the vision to start investing in the lives of young Asians in this important (but neglected) area.

Yayasan Pengembangan Apologetika Indonesia had also exercised the gift of hospitality and stewardship in such excellent fashion that ensured us a safe, well-organized and enjoyable conference in the midst of beautiful Bali Island.

The delegates came from diverse cultures and backgrounds, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, The Philippines, America, England, Canada etc.

We had a fruitful time networking with like-minded believers who share a hunger to think after God’s thoughts more deeply. Generally, we received enthusiastic and positive feedback after sharing the Agora ministry vision:


Some delegates from Philippines and Indonesia consider starting something like it back home! Overall, we are very heartened and grateful to the LORD seeing a small ‘evangelical renaissance’ in different parts of Asia.

It would not do justice to the RZIM speakers to distil the workshops, Bible study, speeches and conversations in a few paragraphs. Later, CDPC delegates would take turn to reorganize and present the materials to the wider Body of Christ on a monthly basis.

The materials would provide an introductory handle for normal folks like us to explore further. But the strength of RZIM has been the ability to communicate profound insights that touch both heart and mind in simple language.

One lady delegate came prepared to criticize Ravi Zacharias on the dangers of intellectualism and relying on human wisdom. But after hearing him out, she became pleasantly surprised that he addressed both rational and existential needs of individuals.

For example, he would tell the young would-be apologists that all our arguments would amount to nothing if we do not demonstrate love, respect, gentleness and trust in the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit.

Now, the would-be critic is a firm believer!

In conclusion, I would like to post snippets of my favorite moments at the Conference just to give you a teaser of the good stuffs to come.

“Relationship is not a means of evangelism – it is the communication of the Person of Christ by the persons of believers to the persons in the world through the Person of the Holy Spirit”
LT Jeyachandran on personal relationships

“When you see a counterfeit, ask what is the genuine or original article?”
Ajoy Varghese on the nature of errors as parasites of truth

“Boredom is the soul sickness of our time… saturated space and inundated lives”
Stuart McAllister on the idolatry of modernism

"Until we receive the Son that has been provided, we'll be offering our own sons"
Ravi Zacharias to a Hamas leader, who lost many sons in battle

“Because of Incarnation, the Christian has a high view of the physical body”.
Alison Thomas, a certified fitness instructor teaching Christ-centered exercise

“Culture is the new absolute, and once again the focus is not on what we believe (content, objectivity, justification) but on how beliefs are formed, inherited and shaped by context. In fact, it is a form of determinism, in which my social context is seen to be definitive.”
McAllister, describing postmodernism

“Apologetics is for the Church, not for the specially trained”
Michael Ramsden on doing conversational apologetics

“Mom, if you knew what was in my mind, you’d be glad that it has been washed”
Ramsden, quoting a Christian whose mother suspected him of being brainwashed

“In some circles, speaking about the authority of the Bible is a controversial issue in CHURCH! Persevere in its defense.”
Joe Boots on the intellectual challenge of the Cross

“Keep doing what you guys are doing!”
Ravi Zacharias on the Agora

Christian Groups Protest The Da Vinci Code; Film Studio Actually Listens

I would be satisfied with a clear disclaimer that it’s a work of fiction, or that the whole plot is just a fancy conspiracy theory.

News: Reel News - Christianity Today Movies: "Christian Groups Protest The Da Vinci Code; Film Studio Actually Listens
Catholic organizations appeal to makers of The Da Vinci Code movie; studio requests suggestions on how to make film less offensive.
by Josh Hurst | posted 08/08/05

The most controversial film of the year is a movie that won't even make it to theaters until next summer. Ron Howard's adaptation of the best-selling novel The DaVinci Code is already being maligned by concerned Christian groups, including conservative Catholic groups like The Catholic League and Opus Dei.

And, believe it or not, Howard and his studio are actually listening. According to the New York Times, many Christian organizations have approached the studio about the film's possible offensiveness. The studio has responded by asking how they might alter the novel's plot to make it less controversial among Christian audiences.

Christian consultants have given them several suggestions, among them a reworking of the story's central premise�that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had a child together�and a removal of an unfavorable reference to Catholic group Opus Dei."

Monday, August 08, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Do Jedis Think in Absolutes?

I was reminded of an interesting line by Obi Wan Kenobi before the light sabers sent sparks flying at the final duel between him and Anakin...

"Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes. I will do what I must." (which is, kill Anakin)

OK, that's interesting.

"MUST you absolutely do it, Master Obi Wan?"

It seems that the 'must' is rather absolute here.

But here's my take on this...

The exceedingly ironic thing about this whole episode is, actually, the fact that Sith Lord is moral relativist! (an inconsistent one, though, as they inevitably are)

Dun believe, look at this CONVERSATION between Palpatine and young Anakin Skywalker